Unit 1: Ancient Africa - The Cradle of Civilization
(200,000 B.C. - 476 B.C.)

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Early Man
Africa is the birthplace of all of humanity. Rock art throughout Africa illustrate the slow but methodic civilizing process of the first human beings in Africa. Blombos Cave in South Africa contains both the oldest African rock art as well as the world's oldest engraings dated to 77,000 years of age. Ancient Kemet (Egypt) began in 3150 B.C. 

Unit 1 Overview

The history of humankind began in Africa. The first homo sapiens (modern human beings) originated in Africa 200,000 years ago. In fact, human beings lived in Africa and Africa alone for over 100,000​ years before leaving the continent. Ancient Egypt begins around 3150 B.C.E. (5,000 B.C.E. by some accounts). This constitutes a mere 6,000-7,000 years of human history compared to the over 100,000 years of history in which Africa was the only home to human beings, and the people who today we call "Africans" were the only people on the planet. 

By the time ancient Kemet, which the Greeks called Egypt, was established, all of the tools necessary to construct a dynamic civilization had been created: the planet, moon and stars and their relationship to time and nature had been observed for thousands of years; language and forms of communication had already been developed; hunting techniques and tools were sophisticated, and fire, water and permanent shelter was secured. Early Africans thousands of years before the ancient Egyptians had already domesticated all types of animals including girraffe, cattle, and horses, as well as plants and vegtables. Furthermore, these early Africans wore clothes made of cloth, leaved in mud homes, and made decorative jewellry, pottery, and astonishing art painted and etched on walls of caves and mountains all throughout Africa. Also, the formulation of spirtuality existed before the founding of ancient Kemet, as evidenced by images of early Africans praying on rock art. And even more importantly, the human population had increased exponentially, allowing for a surplus of labor, and thus the opportunity for the large range of diversification of occupations that would foster the development of what we consider civilization. 

So if Africa is the "birthplace of humankind" and the "cradle of civilization," and all human beings originated in Africa, why do we know so little about Africa? Why doesn't history in school begin in Africa, the place were humans began? Why do we think so negatively about Africa? If human beings lived in Africa and Africa alone for thousands of years, how can Africa so easily be written out of history? If the ancient "Egyptians" were so brillant, why did their civilization end? How could less enlightened people conquer them? As you will learn in the complimentary Introductory Unit, these questions speak to the political nature of education. African history has been purposefully omitted from schools because it contradicts the racist ideology of Africa as the "Dark continent" that had no history prior to European involvement. 

Any comprehensive study of history must begin when and where human beings first appeared, and continue in chronological order. Only then can we objectively chart the progress of humankind, expose propaganda, and destroy the foundation of racism. RE-LEARN.

Early Man
As you can see from this rock art, dated - over 2,000 years BEFORE ancient Egypt - Africans had already domesticated animals, and even created the horse-drawn carriage. They were also wearing clothes and organized as a society. Ancient Nubia and Kemet (Egypt) owe their genius to the pioneering knowledge developed by Africans who came before them thousands of years earlier.